Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Let the Dukes add a touch of drama to your 2017



From new versions of classic stories to a no-holds-barred production of Trainspotting, there’s a varied year of visiting drama ahead at The Dukes.

The Lancaster theatre’s new spring/summer season will see the return of Northern Broadsides with their adaptation of the romantic comedy Cyrano de Bergerac from March 28-April 1 and making their Dukes debut from May 9-13 with their production of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey will be Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds.

Also new to The Dukes is the King’s Head Theatre and In Your Face Theatre’s 21st anniversary production of Trainspotting from June 1-3 which promises to be as passionate and controversial as the famous novel.

And two more highlights of The Dukes delicious new visiting drama season will be part play, part cookery demonstration, The Chef Show, on January 13 and 14; and Made In India, a thrilling new play about motherhood and blood ties between women and nations from March 2-4.

The Dukes commitment to hosting top drama touring the country runs alongside its own programme of quality homegrown productions.

The Dukes will produce I Was A Wife from February 15-22 and March 3-4 before it also goes on tour and it will co-produce The Island with Chipping Norton Theatre from April 27-May 6.

And from July 4-August 12, The Dukes celebrates 30 years of promenading in the park with an adaptation of Treasure Island.

To book tickets for any of the new season events, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Duo back in musical action at the George and Dragon


Popular combo The Duo – from folk to Floyd will be back in Lancaster at the end of this month, on Saturday 28th January 2017 commencing at 9.00pm in the George and Dragon on St George's Quay.

As we've previously mentioned, The Duo have taken the 21st Centruy by the horns by publishing a taste of some of their performances on YouTube thanks to Gorgeous Media. You'll will find The Duo monkeying about with guitars, and stuff...



But... when you do - think not this provides a substitute for attending their gig on the 28th, as it doesn't. The clips are only part of the songs 'n' tunes, see?

For the full thing you have to get along on 28th January at the George and Dragon. Yes, we did just mention the date and venue again. Relentless, eh?

• The Duo – from folk to Floyd: www.myspace.com/theduofolktofloyd
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Lancaster Silent Movie & Classic Film Cub 2017 Film Screenings Announced


The Blot, a 1921 film, launches the 2017 screenings from Lancaster Silent Movie & Classic Film Club

The Lancaster Silent Movie & Classic Film Cub has announced its screenings for 2017, which will all take place at the Gregson Centre on Moorgate.

Their 2017 screenings begin on Tuesday 17th January with The Blot, an American silent drama film directed by Lois Weber with her husband Phillips Smalley in 1921. Weber also co-wrote and produced the film. 

The film tackles the social problem of genteel poverty, focusing on a struggling family and stars Philip Hubbard, Margaret McWade, Claire Windsor and Louis Calhern.

Weber filmed in real locations, using as much natural lighting as possible. Scenes were filmed on location around Los Angeles, particularly at the old University of Los Angeles campus, now Los Angeles City College. Many supporting roles were given to non-professionals.

The Blot was restored by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill for British television. Brownlow singles out the film for praise in his book Behind the Mask of Innocence, published in 1990. 

The 2017 Lancaster Silent Movie & Classic Film Cub screenings continue with:

Tuesday 21st February 2017: The Last Laugh

Tuesday 21st March 2017: The Student Prince


Tuesday 18th April 2017:  Buster Keaton night (films to be decided)

Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was an American actor, director, producer, writer, and stunt performer, best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face." 

Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Keaton's "extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929, [when] he worked without interruption on a series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor–director in the history of the movies". 

His career declined afterward with a dispiriting loss of his artistic independence when he was hired by MGM, which resulted in a crippling alcoholism that ruined his family life. He recovered in the 1940s, remarried, and revived his career to a degree as an honoured comic performer for the rest of his life, earning an Academy Honorary Award in 1959.

Many of Keaton's films from the 1920s, such as Sherlock Jr. (1924), The General (1926), and The Cameraman (1928), remain highly regarded, with the second of these three widely viewed as his masterpiece. Among its strongest admirers was Orson Welles, who stated that The General was cinema's highest achievement in comedy, and perhaps the greatest film ever made. 

Tuesday 9th May 2017: Die Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle) Part One (Siegfried)

Tuesday 16th May 2017: Die Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle) Part Two (Kriemhild's Revenge)

Tuesday 20th June 2017: It

Starring Clara Bow, the 1927 film It is a 1927 silent romantic comedy film telling the story of a shop girl who sets her sights on the handsome and wealthy boss of the department store where she works. It's based on a novella by Elinor Glyn that was originally serialised in Cosmopolitan magazine.

This film turned actress Clara Bow into a major star, and led people to label her the "It girl".

The picture was considered lost for many years, but a nitrate-copy was found in Prague in the 1960s. In 2001, It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Tuesday 11th July 2017: Noah's Ark


Tuesday 15th August 2017: The Chessplayer

The Chess Player (Le Joueur d'échecs) is a 1927 French silent film directed by Raymond Bernard and based on a novel by Henry Dupuy-Mazuel. It is a historical drama set in the late 18th century during the Russian domination of Polish Lithuania, and elements of the plot are drawn from the story of the chess-playing automaton known as The Turk.



Tuesday 19th September 2017: Blood And Sand

Blood and Sand is a 1922 American silent drama film produced by Paramount Pictures, directed by Fred Niblo and starring Rudolph Valentino, Lila Lee and Nita Naldi. It was based on the 1909 Spanish novel Sangre y arena  by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez and the play version of the book by Thomas Cushing.


Tuesday 17th October 2017: Häxan

Häxan is a 1922 Swedish-Danish documentary-style silent horror film (known as The Witches or Witchcraft Through the Ages in English) written and directed by Benjamin Christensen. 

Based partly on Christensen's study of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors, Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. The film was made as a documentary but contains dramatised sequences that are comparable to horror films.

With Christensen's meticulous recreation of medieval scenes and the lengthy production period, the film was the most expensive Scandinavian silent film ever made, costing nearly two million Swedish kronor. But although it won acclaim in Denmark and Sweden, the film was banned in the United States and heavily censored in other countries for what were considered at that time graphic depictions of torture, nudity, and sexual perversion.

Tuesday 21st November 2017: Madame DuBarry

Tuesday19th December 2017: A Collection of Short Comedies

• All Lancaster Silent Movie & Classic Film Cub screenings start at 7.30pm The Gregson Centre, 33 Moorgate, Moor Lane, Lancaster, LA1 3PY. Admission is free but donations towards running costs of the Club are welcome on the door. 

• Club page on Facebook: facebook.com/groups/1480997082154381


Friday, 23 December 2016

Need a GP, nurse or pharmacist over the holiday?


Morecambe Bay NHS services tell us they have been working hard alongside local and national NHS colleagues to ensure that patients who really need urgent care over the Christmas and New Year period receive the quickest possible treatment they need, and that people who can be cared for elsewhere don't have to resort to waiting in Accident and Emergency departments.

Read down for their advice on obtaining  healthcare services over Christmas and New Year for patients in both Cumbria and Lancashire or visit their seasonal information page here. (Don't forget to wash your hands!)

GP appointments:
Although some GP practices are closed over Christmas and New Year bank holidays, the NHS has been working to ensure people will still be able to access a GP appointment or pharmacist should they need one. If you need to see a GP over Christmas and New Year, contact NHS 111 who will be able to help.

You can also find your nearest GP, pharmacy or dentist at http://www.urgentoremergency.co.uk/ (scroll down to enter your postcode).

They wish to reassure people that if they call 111, they will be allocated an appointment should they need one.

Pharmacies:
The NHS is also encouraging  people to visit their local pharmacy for minor ailments. In most cases, this will mean they receive the advice and care they need much quicker. Pharmacists can provide instant, confidential advice and treatment for minor illnesses, without the need to make an appointment. For local pharmacy opening hours, during the Christmas and New Year period, please click on the relevant link below:

Opening times for pharmacies in North Lancashire (Lancaster, Morecambe and rural)
Opening times for pharmacies in the South Lakeland area
Opening times for pharmacies in the Furness area

A&E:
A&E departments are always busy over the festive period so we need to help to keep them free for those people with serious or life-threatening injuries or illnesses. Many people don't know that there are a range of local health services available to you when you are feeling unwell.  Depending on the seriousness of your symptoms, you could get help faster and easier by using another service, and you could even save lives! You can find out more about these services and how to contact them here. 

Child Health App:
Advice for parents is also available on the free NHS child health app. The app has been developed by doctors, health visitors and pharmacists and can be downloaded from Google Play or Apple’s App Store. There is also child health information available locally developed by local GPs and paediatricians here.

For more information visit the UHMBT news website.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Lancashire is ready for stormy weather predicted over Christmas

Art: Nick Miller
Lancashire County Council says it is is fully prepared to respond to any severe weather which could hit the county over the festive period.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for high winds from Friday morning through to Saturday morning, with the medium-term forecast predicting further stormy conditions in the days to follow.

The county council's highway teams are on standby to deal with whatever the weather brings, and are equipped to tackle everything from downed trees blocking roads, to ice and snow, and floods.

External contractors are also available to be called upon to add to the council's manpower should they be needed.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We're well prepared for whatever the weather holds for us over the coming days and throughout the festive period.

"Ahead of the high winds which are forecast we're ensuring that our highway teams are ready to deal with incidents such as roads being blocked by trees, as well as any other urgent repairs and maintenance that may be needed.

"We're also ready for any more wet or wintry weather which may follow this, with our teams on standby and well-equipped to keep the roads moving in the event of freezing weather, or respond to flooding if necessary.

"While the unsettled weather expected over Christmas is not expected to cause widespread problems, everyone in Lancashire will be reminded at this time of the awful Boxing Day floods which hit the county last year.

"The impact of this is still being felt directly by many people, and we are still working with partners to look at what could be done to mitigate the impact of future incidents.

"I would like to reassure everyone that, while most people are looking forward to some time off over the coming days, we'll have our eyes on the weather and be ready to deal with the impact of whatever it brings us."

• You can find out more about Lancashire County Council's preparations for winter, including updates on gritting, and what you can do to reduce the impact of flooding, at www.lancashire.gov.uk

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 21st to 29th December 2016

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

Three new releases make it to the cinema this week. There is drama with Collateral Beauty (12A); comedy animation in Monster Trucks (PG) and the adult comedy Why Him (15). Otherwise, there is little change to listings, with the loss of just one movie Bad Santa 2.

Science fiction remains well represented with Arrival; Passengers and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Also on offer is Fantasy from J K Rowling in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Drama is supplied with Collateral Beauty and Sully: Miracle on the Hudson. Romance comes with forbidden love in A United Kingdom and the wartime epic Allied.

Adult comedy comes with Office Christmas Party and Why Him. For more family oriented entertainment there is Ballerina; Moana; Monster Trucks; Storks and Trolls

High Culture this period comes with Bolshoi Ballet: The Nutcracker and National Theatre Encore: No Man's Land

The festive season is not complete without a classic Christmas movie, and two are on offer with It's A Wonderful Life and The Muppet Christmas Carol.

We wish you a Merry Christmas, one and all.

Reviews

A United Kingdom
Director: Amma Asante
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: David Oyelowo Rosamund Pike
Based on the book 'Colour Bar' by Susan Williams, the film is a romantic drama based on the real life romance between Sir Seretse Khama, king of Botswana and Ruth Williams. Seretse and Ruth met in London, in the 1940's, fell in love and subsequently married. However the marriage was opposed by their families, the couple becoming ostracised by their friends. Governments were also involved as South Africa had recently introduced their system of apartheid and they pressured the British government with threats of economic sanctions if the marriage was allowed to go ahead. This is a fine period romance with excellent costumes, impressive cinematography and exotic backdrops. The film concentrates on the human drama faced by the couple and rather glosses over the political complexities, but it is not the worse for that. The movie has received good reviews.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell
This is a Harry Potter prequel, inspired by J K Rowling's book of the same name. The movie is set in the 1920's, where Newt Scamander is a magizoologist, collecting and studying magical creatures. He visits New Your City where several of these creatures escape from his suitcase. He collects about him a group of allies to try to recapture the beasts. However New York at this time has been under a reign of terror from the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) and in the era of suspicion the creatures are believed to be responsible for an attack. Hence Percival Graves (Farrell), a director of magical secrets, declares war on Scamander and his helpers. This is a wonderful film and a fine tribute to the creativity of Rawlings. There are lots of plots, strange people and weird and wonderful beasts. The movie has received favourable reviews, but is perhaps a little darker than the Harry Potter series.

Moana
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson
A Walt Disney animated fantasy adventure. Moana (Cravalho) is the teenage daughter of the chief of a Polynesian island. However the fish and island produce become less abundant and hence Moana undertakes a nautical quest to find the magical amulet Te Fiti's heart and the demigod Maui (Johnson). The quest involves monsters and battles This is a magical film, with music, comedy and a good dose of adventure. It is extremely well produced and has received excellent reviews from both critics and audience. A must see movie for all ages.

Passengers
Director: Morten Tyldum
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
The rocket 'Starship Avalon' is on a 120 year voyage from earth to the colony planet Homestead II, transporting over 5000 people who are travelling in hibernation pods is a state of suspended animation. However two of the pods open prematurely releasing their occupants while they are still 90 years from their destination. These are journalist Aurora Dunn (Lawrence) and mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Pratt). They are drawn to each other and romance blossoms. However they need to understand the apparent malfunction that released them early from their hibernation and decide how to respond to their plight. They discover that the pods are not the only problem and the spaceship and its entire cargo is in jeopardy. This is a science fiction movie with a good helpings of romance, suspense and action. An entertaining movie.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Felicity Jones
This movie is set just before the events of the original Star Wars. There are rumours circulating that the Galactic Empire are about to construct a horrendous new weapon, a 'Death Star' designed by Galen Erso (Mikkelson) A small team of rebels led by his daughter Jyn Erso (Jones) and Cassian Ander (Luna) strive to find the designer and steal the design schematics. The movie hosts new and familiar aliens who strive to 'use the force' and it comes with breathtaking special effects. This is more gritty that the familiar star wars offering, more of a war move with a higher body count and more muddied ethics. The movie has been well received and will delight audiences. It breaks new ground from the classic Star Wars, but only just.

Storks
Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Kelsey Grammer, Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Anton Starkman
Conerstone used to be in the business of delivering babies and most of its employees are stalks. However CEO stalk Hunter (Grammer) discontinued the service for the more lucrative business of delivering parcels. The business receives a letter from Nate (Starkman) a neglected boy who wants a baby brother and Tulip (Crown), a woman working for Cornerstone, causes the baby machine to create a girl in response to the letter. Now Tulip and her stork friend Junior (Samberg) must deliver the baby before Hunter finds out. This involves their facing a pack of wolves, militant penguins and an avalanche. This is a bizarre, non stop and fun packed movie that will appeal to all ages. It has been well received by the critics and is sure to please.

County Council announces £500k extra funding to ease Winter pressures on Lancs Hospitals



Lancashire County Council has announced that it will make up to £500,000 available to ease winter pressure pressures on Lancashire's hospitals.

A social care team will survey Lancashire's hospitals on a regular basis to identify immediate actions that can speed up the discharges of patients from hospital. Where these actions require additional funding the £500,000 contingency will ensure money is immediately available.

The contingency fund is part of a raft of measures introduced by the county council to tackle winter pressures, including:

• Increased staff capacity over Christmas and the New Year to ensure that there are social work staff on site at hospitals every day through the festive period.
• Restricted annual leave across hospital and community teams to ensure 80% of available staff are in work from 1 December to 31 January 2017.
• An additional 20 occupational therapists are being recruited to enable more timely assessments and enable people to remain more independent in their own homes.
• An additional 300 hours of crisis domiciliary care support will also be commissioned to provide extra capacity.
• Additional care navigation hours will be arranged to help find appropriate places in residential care, ensuring an efficient flow of people through the care system.

The county council's senior managers will continue to work very closely with health colleagues to provide resources where they are most needed and can be most effective for people.

County Councillor Tony Martin, Cabinet Member for Adult and Community Services, said: "There are serious pressures on the health and social care system across the country and we face the same pressures here in Lancashire.

"It's a measure of how seriously we take this issue that we have identified this funding at a time when the county council is facing an unprecedented financial challenge.

"I am committed to doing all we can for our frail elderly citizens over the winter months

"For the longer term we are working very hard on how we can manage future demand, as we face reducing budgets and rising costs.

"We are fully committed to working with colleagues in the Trusts and the Clinical Commissioning Groups to try and ease pressures and keep the system running through the rest of the winter."

County has had to find £300million in savings by 2020, representing around a 65% budget cut. But it is likely that this timely allocation, although it must spread thinly across the whole of Lancashire, will result in savings overall, not only in helping to increase hospital capacity for appropriate use, but also in the enormous relief these services will bring to distressed and frail people, who can deteriorate very quickly in hospital and who need responsive strategic care and rehabilitation to get back to their lives while they can.



Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Morecambe's West-End feels lighter after clean-up shifts 18 tons of waste


Eighteen tonnes of waste – equivalent in weight to two T.Rexes – was collected in a cleanup in the West End of Morecambe over the last weekend in November.

West End Million joined forces with Adactus Housing Group, who have properties in the area, to tidy up the streets and alleyways in and around Clarendon, Westminster, Marlborough and West End Roads over two days.

Local residents have complained for years about the overwhelming build-up of abandoned junk and rubbish in the area, as a hazard to children and as a generally depressing eyesore. With council budgets cut to the bone, this project, coming as it does with partnership funding and human volunteers from Adactus too, is especially welcome and needed.

This pilot event was organised by David Holme of Adactus, who joint funded it together with West End Million, and volunteers Pat Williamson and Elizabeth Das.

To put some muscle into the clean-up, skips were placed at the end of each road for residents to use and Adactus staff and volunteers helped out.

The cleanup was also a learning curve in preparation for a much larger event next Spring to involve even more streets in the West End.

Simon Das of  the West End Million Partnership, said: “This pilot project went really well. We had great support from local people and the skips were obviously well used. We are looking forward to improving the event for next Spring, ensuring we can expand the project to make a bigger lasting difference to the West End.”

Improving housing and the general environment of the area is one of West End Million’s main priorities. They would welcome more volunteers to suggest ideas and help to organise the Spring clean-up. Anyone interested should visit www.westendmillion.co.uk and see the housing section for contact details.

A West End alleyway
before and after the clean-up
West End Million was formed after the West End of Morecambe was awarded £1 million of National Lottery money from the Big Local project (administered by Local Trust) in 2012 to invest in improvements for all residents over 10 years. Local people decide where the money is spent.

Adactus Housing Association Group states on its website that one of its goals is: “To make a difference in neighbourhoods by levering in resources and helping to focus community activity.”
This project is definitely making a difference.



Lancaster Canal Restoration work steams ahead

Work on Lancaster Canal's disused Northern Reaches, back in September

(Updated 2nd February 2017): Volunteers for Friends of Lancaster Canal continued work on the disused section of its Northern Reaches over the weekend, which began back in September.

Despite the foggy weather, volunteers from all corners of the North West turned up to continue clearing the canal bed of self seeded and invasive species on the disused sections.

Said co-ordinator Colin Ogden: “It is pleasant to see volunteers from such varied and different groups working together under one banner."
Larkrigg Hall Bridge, near Kendal
"Lancaster Canal Trust have staked their claim to restoring Horse Park Bridge, and we welcome this. Meanwhile, we maintain all energies and money should start at Tewitfield, but listed buildings are part of our heritage and need saving.”

Colin is investigating further listed buildings and bridges on the Lancaster Canal, after the successful restoration of bridge 180.

Close co-operation of land owners and organisations is always a priority when work like this is done,  and extensive nature studies have been conducted.

UPDATE, 2nd February 2017: Two lots of work have taken place on the Northern Reaches of Lancaster Canal since September 2016, one organised by Colin Ogden. There would appear to be an issue as regards the quality of some work undertaken from other volunteers who have contacted virtual-lancaster.

There also seems to be an issue as regards who was actually involved in the December work party; and, further, some considerable disgruntlement between different volunteer groups working on the canal's restoration. While comments are of course, welcome, we do have to consider potential defamation issues, which is why this blog moderates its comments, no matter the accuracy of claims made.

It is our understanding that contrary to an earlier version of this item, Mr Ogden is not the work party coordinator for Lancaster Canal Trust and we did not intend to imply this. As of December 2016, this post was currently vacant.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Time to have your say on Lancaster University’s future


Plans for the development of Lancaster University to 2020 and beyond, including exciting key projects such as the Health Innovation Campus, will be shared with the community in January.

Lancaster University Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith will invite the local community to share their own views on the development of the University at the event at Lancaster Town Hall on Tuesday 10th January 2017 at 6.30pm.

The event will also showcase ways in which the city and the campus currently work together, through activities like student volunteering, summer schools for young people from across Lancashire and the North-West, community fundraising and on technology projects such as bringing free public Wi-Fi to Lancaster and Morecambe.

Professor Smith said: “It is important for both the University and the city to consider their priorities and find ways to continue to work together for mutual benefit. The University is a part of a community, and making sure that the community is involved in the University’s development and forward planning is vital. I look forward to the discussion at this event.”

• Tickets for this event are free but should be reserved in advance by calling 01524 510533 or online here All welcome

Monuments of the North West light up for Samaritans this festive season




Three local landmarks are being lit up in green this December as part of a North West scheme to remind people that Samaritans are there to support people 24/7 throughout the festive period.

On the evening of Friday 23 December, Blackpool Tower, the Ashton Memorial in Lancaster and The Sir John Barrow monument on Hoad Hill in Ulverston will all turn green to raise awareness of the work of the Samaritans in the North West. Other landmarks that will be lit up for the Samaritans in the North West that night will be Liverpool Town Hall, St Michaels Church, Macclesfield and The Tower of Refuge and the Ramsey Swing Bridge, Isle of Man.

The Ashton Memorial will continue to be lit during the week between Christmas and New Year and Angel Square in Manchester and The Pyramid in Stockport will also be lit from the 19th December until 23 December, meaning that on 23 December, all the buildings involved across the North West will be lit simultaneously.

Jenny Dighton, Director of Lancaster and District Samaritans said: “We know that for all sorts of reasons, the festive period can be one of the most difficult times of year for many people. People may be worried about money, under great pressure, missing someone they've lost or feeling lonely or depressed. Lighting up these iconic buildings is a visual reminder to people across the North West that around the country Samaritans volunteers are available any time, day or night, including all over the holidays, for anyone who is finding life difficult or needs someone to talk to.”

"We're very grateful to Brent Lees of BCL Lighting Design which came up with the idea of lighting three landmarks around Morecambe Bay, as well as to Williamson Park, Merlin Entertainments and Ulverston Town Council who have made this combined effort possible.”

Brent Lees of BCL Lighting Design, responsible for the lighting of the Ashton Memorial said: “We regularly light the Ashton Memorial in Lancaster for charities. When we were approached by Lancaster and District Samaritans to light up the memorial over Christmas, we thought it would be an opportunity to get other North West landmarks involved. All three of these buildings are visible for miles around the North West coastline and it's great that they will be beacons of light in the darkness –  rather like the Samaritans can be for those in need.”

The lighting of Sir John Barrow monument is provided by Marl of Ulverston.

Anyone in distress can talk to Samaritans any time they like, in their own way and off the record, about whatever is getting to them. To contact Samaritans you can call for free on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org round the clock, every single day of the year.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

County Council winds up social care training company


Lancashire Workforce Development Partnership Limited (LWDP), a company owned by Lancashire County Council, has ceased trading, 11 years after it was set up to support workforce development activities in the social care sector.

LWDP formally ceased to trade on 7 December. The company, based in Bamber Bridge, employed 13 people who have been made redundant as a result of the decision to wind up the Partnership.

The decision to cease funding LWDP was agreed by Full Council at its budget meeting in February 2016, as part of the council's response to its extremely challenging financial circumstances and changes to the social care sector.  Our County Council is being forced by central government to find £303 million in savings (cuts) by 2020, which means councillors are continually being forced into some harrowing choices.

The government's own Health Select Committee has warned Chancellor Philip Hammond that the budget allowed to local authorities for Health & Social Care is so inadequate that it will cause both chaos to underfunded NHS hospitals and intense distress for people reliant on these services for their survival.

The government's only response to date has been to increase the limit by which Councils can raise their Council Tax. They have so far refused to acknowledge that the most this could raise in lower-rated authorities such as Lancashire would barely be a drop in the ocean of disproportionately austere funding cuts they have imposed on lower-income authorities.

In last February's budget for 2016 / 2017 the County Council already made a 4% increase in Council Tax. Even so they were also forced to drop planned cuts to the council's flood risk management service after flooding last winter.

Speaking about this latest change in the Health & Social Care sector, Jenny Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "Over the years Lancashire Workforce Development Partnership has contributed significantly to improving the quality of social care for many people across the county, through its training and workforce development activities. However, current social care market conditions mean we now have to prioritise different types of training provision.

"This has been a difficult decision to make, and I am very sympathetic to those people who will be made redundant.

"We have to ensure that we are getting the best value from all of our funding and winding the company up, will enable us to recover around £750,000 from its reserves and spend the money directly to provide training for the social care sector."

('Reserves' refers to money that must be set aside to ensure that a contract made by the Council can be honoured for the duration of its term.)

Lesley Bamber, Chief Executive of Lancashire Workforce Development Partnership, said: "This has been a very sad process for everyone involved in the Partnership, and whilst I do not agree with the decision, I do understand the county council's decision.

"I am very proud of all of the staff who have contributed to our work over the years and of the difference we have made to improving standards of care for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

"I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such committed and talented people and wish them all the very best in their future careers."

LWDP formally ceased to trade on 7 December. The company, based in Bamber Bridge, employed 13 people who have been made redundant as a result of the decision to wind up the Partnership.


'Lancaster Sings Leonard' homage night at the Yorkie this Wednesday



Players, singers and writers from all over the North-West will be at the Yorkshire House this Wednesday December 21 to celebrate the work of Leonard Cohen, in a night for Lancaster to Sing Leonard.

The Yorkshire House has a long and glorious tradition of, very occasionally, hosting homage nights to great and influential singer / songwriters, in aid of charity.  The range of interpretations local artists render into these already great songs has always held me spell-bound. These nights are very special and not to be missed.

The beloved Canadian songwriter, novelist and poet died last month and Lancaster Cohen fans Betty Manson and Dan Haywood felt that a night paying homage was in order.

Dan says " We've been pleased to find that so many local musicians have been inspired by Cohen and all who are taking the stage are very excited. Cohen was a peerless writer for whom many have a special place in their heart. I think 'Lancaster Sings Leonard' will be a special night.

Some of the seventeen performers already have Leonard songs in their repertoire, while others are rehearsing one-off collaborations. Janine Wells is a sublime singer and guitarist who hasn't played in public for almost ten years-- but such is her love for the man she's coming out of retirement for one night only. She'll be playing 'Tonight will be Fine' and 'Suzanne' and I can't wait to hear her again".

Other classics on the cards include Joan of Arc, Who By Fire, I'm Your Man and Hallelujah- ranging from pared back solo renditions to versions backed by a house band including brilliant Liverpool violinist Mikey Kenney and local bass virtuoso Dave Shooter.

Dan adds: ''It won't be just Cohen's music at the celebration...there will be short readings from his books of poetry in between acts and audience members will be encouraged to recite their favourites too. Projections of images  of the legendary man will also enhance the evening".

The programme begins shortly after doors open at 8PM and is only partly seated so get there early to bag a table. Admission is £4 (£2 concs) and all proceeds will be donated to refugee charity Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary.


Saturday, 17 December 2016

New Xmas hamper food donation point at SearchQuest, Church St

Anyone who wants to contribute to this year's Christmas hamper collection
can drop their items off at SearchQuest's headquarters at
80 Church Street before Thursday, December 22.


Award-winning Lancaster Digital Marketing Experts SearchQuest, have launched their annual Christmas appeal and are reaching out to other Lancaster businesses to get involved.

They are inviting businesses and residents to stop by their Church Street offices to donate hamper items to the Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service (LDHAS).

SearchQuest staff (pictured) are collecting donations from staff, local residents and other businesses to help give those who are less fortunate a comfortable Christmas.

Senior Digital Marketing Executive, Katie Hornby, has been organising the collection and is overwhelmed at the generosity of both staff and the public. She said: "Christmas is supposed to be a special time of year for everyone, so we thought it would be a great idea to give a little to those who may not be as fortunate as we are.

“I'm amazed by the amount of donations that we’ve received after only two days of our appeal being launched. With just under a week left until we deliver our hampers, we are hoping even more people will get involved and make Christmas extra special for those who are homeless in the area.”

LDHAS need a variety of items, including dried fruit, cartons of fruit juice, socks, gloves, sanitary items and non-perishable foods, and are extremely grateful for anything that can be spared for those who will be spending Christmas outside this year.

Since their founding in 2000, it has become a tradition for SearchQuest staff to keep it real and dedicate their services to helping those struggling with misfortune.

So far this year, the Lancaster business, which has now grown to being an official Google Premier Partner,  has created more than 20 hampers for our local Homeless Action charity, and hope to put together at least another ten before they deliver them on Friday, December 23. With your help, they might manage even more. There are people facing the roughest times of their lives in our area who will be so glad of it.

Last Christmas, the Searchquest team collected for both the St. John’s Hospice and Animal Care charities and recently raised more than £500 at their Macmillan Coffee Morning.

Anyone who wants to contribute to this year's Christmas hamper collection can drop their items off at SearchQuest's headquarters at 80 Church Street before Thursday, December 22.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 14th to 22nd December 2016

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

Things are fairly static in the run up to Christmas, with only two new releases. There is musical animation Ballerina (U) and science fiction adventure/romance Passengers (12A).

Movies that have vanished from the region include the two animations Ice Age:Collision Course and The Secret Life of Pets. Also the films A United Kingdom; Allied and Bad Santa 2 are coming to an end of their screening. However we do see the return, for one day only, of I, Daniel Blake with its view of life on benefits.

There are three science fiction movies on offer this period. Aliens visit the earth in Arrival; the rebel alliance continues to harass the Empire in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and love is found amidst adversity on a starship in Passengers.

Romance can also be found in the second world war in Allied whereas A United Kingdom tells a story of forbidden Love.

Other drama comes with an aviation crisis in Sully: Miracle on the Hudson; racial tension with In the Heat of the Night and terrorism in Die Hard.

The movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them offers Fantasy from J K Rowling. Family entertainment also comes with the animation films Ballerina; Moana; Storks and Trolls.

Festive comedy for all comes with The Muppet Christmas Carol whereas adult comedy is provided by Bad Santa 2 and Office Christmas Party.

High Culture this period is represented by the Bolshoi Ballet: The Nutcracker and National Theatre Live: No Man's Land.

Reviews

A United Kingdom
Director: Amma Asante
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: David Oyelowo Rosamund Pike
Based on the book 'Colour Bar' by Susan Williams, the film is a romantic drama based on the real life romance between Sir Seretse Khama, king of Botswana and Ruth Williams. Seretse and Ruth met in London, in the 1940's, fell in love and subsequently married. However the marriage was opposed by their families, the couple becoming ostracised by their friends. Governments were also involved as South Africa had recently introduced their system of apartheid and they pressured the British government with threats of economic sanctions if the marriage was allowed to go ahead. This is a fine period romance with excellent costumes, impressive cinematography and exotic backdrops. The film concentrates on the human drama faced by the couple and rather glosses over the political complexities, but it is not the worse for that. The movie has received good reviews.

Bad Santa 2
Director: Mark Waters
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Kathy Bates, Brett Kelly
A sequel to the 2003 movie 'Bad Santa', starring many of the original cast. Wilie Soke (Thornton) again plays the role of drunk, lecherous and greedy anit-hero. He teams up with his helper Marcus (Cox) to attempt to rob a Chicago charity of $2 million on Christmas eve. Also involved in the scheme is Soke's foul mouthed mother Sunny (Bates) and 'the kid' from the first movie Thurmon Merman (Brett Kelly) now fully grown but no less innocent. The movie contains much bad language and sex scenes as it tries to recapture the magic of the original. However there are fewer 'laugh out loud' moments amongst the rather muddled plot. An average movie which received mixed reviews.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell
This is a Harry Potter prequel, inspired by J K Rowling's book of the same name. The movie is set in the 1920's, where Newt Scamander is a magizoologist, collecting and studying magical creatures. He visits New Your City where several of these creatures escape from his suitcase. He collects about him a group of allies to try to recapture the beasts. However New York at this time has been under a reign of terror from the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) and in the era of suspicion the creatures are believed to be responsible for an attack. Hence Percival Graves (Farrell), a director of magical secrets, declares war on Scamander and his helpers. This is a wonderful film and a fine tribute to the creativity of Rawlings. There are lots of plots, strange people and weird and wonderful beasts. The movie has received favourable reviews, but is perhaps a little darker than the Harry Potter series.

Moana
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson
A Walt Disney animated fantasy adventure. Moana (Cravalho) is the teenage daughter of the chief of a Polynesian island. However the fish and island produce become less abundant and hence Moana undertakes a nautical quest to find the magical amulet Te Fiti's heart and the demigod Maui (Johnson). The quest involves monsters and battles This is a magical film, with music, comedy and a good dose of adventure. It is extremely well produced and has received excellent reviews from both critics and audience. A must see movie for all ages.

Passengers
Director: Morten Tyldum
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
The rocket 'Starship Avalon' is on a 120 year voyage from earth to the colony planet Homestead II, transporting over 5000 people who are travelling in hibernation pods is a state of suspended animation. However two of the pods open prematurely releasing their occupants while they are still 90 years from their destination. These are journalist Aurora Dunn (Lawrence) and mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Pratt). They are drawn to each other and romance blossoms. However they need to understand the apparent malfunction that released them early from their hibernation and decide how to respond to their plight. They discover that the pods are not the only problem and the spaceship and its entire cargo is in jeopardy. This is a science fiction movie with a good helpings of romance, suspense and action. An entertaining movie.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Felicity Jones
This movie is set just before the events of the original Star Wars. There are rumours circulating that the Galactic Empire are about to construct a horrendous new weapon, a 'Death Star' designed by Galen Erso (Mikkelson) A small team of rebels led by his daughter Jyn Erso (Jones) and Cassian Ander (Luna) strive to find the designer and steal the design schematics. The movie hosts new and familiar aliens who strive to 'use the force' and it comes with breathtaking special effects. This is more gritty that the familiar star wars offering, more of a war move with a higher body count and more muddied ethics. The movie has been well received and will delight audiences. It breaks new ground from the classic Star Wars, but only just.

Storks
Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Kelsey Grammer, Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Anton Starkman
Conerstone used to be in the business of delivering babies and most of its employees are stalks. However CEO stalk Hunter (Grammer) discontinued the service for the more lucrative business of delivering parcels. The business receives a letter from Nate (Starkman) a neglected boy who wants a baby brother and Tulip (Crown), a woman working for Cornerstone, causes the baby machine to create a girl in response to the letter. Now Tulip and her stork friend Junior (Samberg) must deliver the baby before Hunter finds out. This involves their facing a pack of wolves, militant penguins and an avalanche. This is a bizarre, non stop and fun packed movie that will appeal to all ages. It has been well received by the critics and is sure to please.

Labour City Council "out of its depth" on community pool closures, say Tories

Lancaster City Council's Conservative Party Group have accused Labour of failing to keep their promises to engage with the community to find solutions to keep the swimming pools in Carnforth, Hornby and Heysham.

The concerns come as the Council meets tonight and discusses the issue of the community pools today and the Conservatives will be asking for action at the meeting.

Conservative spokesperson and Bare ward councillor Charlie Edwards told virtual-lancaster councillors were promised that they would receive an update in November and visibly there has been no action from the Council to keep these community assets in the community.

The Conservatives propose that if the schools are committed to taking on the pools but need more time to finalise arrangements, the Council should continue to operate the pools beyond April 2017 for a limited period in order to ensure they remain available for public use until transition takes place.

Councillor Andrew Gardiner, who represents Overton, said: "Despite all the boasts about spending £5 million at Salt Ayre, it would be much more effective also to keep community pools open. Heysham have a huge community asset in the pool at Heysham High and I want the Council to help facilitate a Community Asset Transfer."

Councillor Mel Guilding, representing Carnforth, said: "We have had to fight for any information about Carnforth pool: there has been little engagement with the community. Everyone in Carnforth should have access to the pools, it was the people of Carnforth who paid brick by brick for the pool to be built in the first place."

Leader of the Conservative Group, Peter Williamson said: "The Councils are dragging out the process and failing to consider the interests of those who use and work at the pools."

"It is clear to us the Labour Party is out of its depth."

Positive Progress on Lancaster's Local Plan


The Conservatives will also be lending their support to a decision on the council's Local Plan.

"As a Party, we are disappointed that it has taken so long," Charlie Edwards told virtual-lancaster, "as every day we don't have a plan that allocates where people can and cannot build, another developer can put in an application anywhere in the entire District.

"It's a huge piece of work and we have made significant inputs to make sure that all rural areas keep their independence, that the look and feel of the City does not change and that our growth matches the actual need for housing in the area. We want development that is good for the District as a whole, not what is good for developers. "

• Here is the Council report on the community pools: https://committeeadmin.lancaster.gov.uk/documents/s62425/Community%20Pools%20Update.pdf 

Agenda for 14th December 2016 Council Meeting



Lancashire County Council's fund to support rural life in Lancashire - details announced

Old School Brewery, a microbrewery based near Warton Crag, has benefitted from the LEADER  fund. Photo: Lancahsire County Council
Rural companies in Lancashire are being encouraged to apply for a share of £3.8m to grow their business, funding that is the next stage of the Lancashire LEADER programme 2015-2020.

The funding can support a range of activities such as business development, farming, rural services, culture and heritage, and forestry and can be used for a variety of different uses such as buying equipment and business expansion - as long as projects involve business growth, job creation or both.

LEADER aims to create jobs and help businesses grow, which will then benefit the rural economy. The scheme is part of the Rural Development Programme for England and is partly funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (LEADER is a French acronym, which roughly translates as 'Liaison among Actors in Rural Economic Development').

Lancashire County Council deliver the funding on behalf of the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs Rural Payments Agency.

"We're calling on rural businesses and groups to apply for this funding that will help them to create new jobs and boost the local economy," says Lancashire County Councillor Jennifer Mein, leader of the county council.

"We've previously supported a wide range of rural companies and organisations across the county, and want to help more this time around.

"The current round of funding closes towards the end of January, so people are encouraged to apply straight away."

County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, added: "We're particularly pleased that this year's funding could support cultural and heritage projects, and the provision of rural services for local people.

"The LEADER programme encourages the involvement of local rural communities. Decisions on which projects to fund are taken by local representatives from businesses, the public and community organisations. Their local knowledge and expertise is used to decide how funding is allocated in their area."

Locally, one company that has benefitted from funding is the Old School Brewery, a microbrewery situated at the foot of Warton Crag.

In 2011, they received planning approval to turn an old 'at risk' building into a brew house. They worked with Rural Futures planning facilitation service to secure the planning permission and were signposted to LEADER funding, securing £41,000 towards the cost of renovating the building and brewing equipment. The project has created three full-time posts in the brewery, three part-time posts for bar/catering staff who work at functions and events and also casual staff who help out as and when required.

Farmyard Ales in Cockerham, near Lancaster, received 40 per cent funding towards the building of another new micro-brewery, which will create five new jobs once it's open.

Other companies which have received this funding in the past year include FB Eminson & Son and  Lovania Nurseries in Tarleton and Box Tree Farm Camping Cabins, in Wenningtonin the Lune Valley.

• To find out more about the funding and how it could help your business, contact Karen Lawrenson on 01772 538797 or Louise Kite on 01772 534134, or email ruralfunding@lancashire.gov.uk. You can also find out more details by visiting www.lancashire.gov.uk/rural-development


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Lancaster Pub Watch "Home Safe" Scheme Launched


Lancaster Pub Watch has launched a scheme called Home Safe this December to try to ensure everyone who heads into town this Christmas is also able to get themselves home safely.

A great initiative supported by local licencees, it's being run in conjunction with the Police, Lancaster Royal Infirmary A&E, local security company FGH and Lancaster Street Pastors.

"We want as many people as possible to come into the City Centre over the Christmas period," explains Lancaster Pub Watch Chairperson Tim Tomlinson, and enjoy Lancaster’s many wonderful pubs, bars and restaurants. But we also want to make sure they don’t overdo it.

"If someone has had too much, they may not be in a suitable state to get themselves home safely.

"They may also be a nuisance to other customers and ultimately if they’ve really had too much they may put their health at risk and require the attention of the already busy emergency services, potentially putting others with more urgent needs at risk.”

The first stage has been a training plan for staff from the city centre premises in how to spot someone who has had enough to drink, or for whom the next drink would be one too many, and how to handle them politely and safely. FGH security, who won a National Security Industry Excellence award this year, are very generously providing this free of charge to all Lancaster Pub Watch members.

“What we hope people understand is that it is our job and legal responsibility to let anyone know that it’s time to go home if we believe they’ve had enough to drink. It is in their own best interest and they are welcome to come back again whenever they please.”

Safe Place

Pub watch has also made plans for the few cases where an individual has had too much and are not properly able to look after themselves. Venues will try to let them sober up a little with a glass of water or a hot drink and be taken home by one of their friends.

If this is not possible where they are at, two venues, The Sugar House and Apothecary, have offered the use of a quiet room to be used as a Safe Place where they may be taken to recover before going home. Managing access to these is being co-ordinated between FGH, the Police, Lancaster Street Pastors and the venue managers.

“Christmas is a great time to be out and about in Lancaster, but we want to make sure people don’t put themselves at risk or spoil the night for others.”

What landlords ask of customers is:

• Come into Lancaster and enjoy your night out
• Please drink responsibly
• Consider spacing your drinks out with soft drinks
• If you can’t get served because you’ve had enough, please respect the bar staff: It’s the law and it’s for your own good
• If you friend has had enough, don’t try to buy them another drink; help them to get home safely.

Lancaster Pub Watch is made up of 36 premises in and around the city centre
Its main aim is to make Lancaster a safe and welcoming place for customers to enjoy and staff to work in.

Street pastors are trained volunteers from local churches who care about our community. They are usually on patrol from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday night to care for, listen to and help people who are out on the streets.

Man identified following Lancaster sexual assault CCTV appeal

Following the release of CCTV images detectives investigating the sexual assault of a woman in Lancaster have identified the man in the pictures.

A man is now helping police with their inquiries.

Police continue to investigate the incident which happened at around 2.45am on Saturday, December 10th when a woman, 19, was attacked by a man on Milking Stile Lane before a member of the public intervened, forcing the attacker to flee.

Following an earlier appeal, the Good Samaritan who assisted the woman has come forward.

The offender is described as black, medium build with short dark hair. He was wearing dark trousers and either a dark waistcoat over a long sleeved shirt or a two tone coloured top.

DI Phil Jones of Lancaster CID said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public who have assisted so far and the Good Samaritan who came forward following our earlier appeal. They have provided vital information and I have no doubt that the actions of the Good Samaritan prevented a more serious attack on the victim, who continues to be supported by specially trained officers after this traumatic incident.”

• Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log number 0225 of December 10th or independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org

• 18th January 2017 UPDATE: Our earlier story on this assault which included the CCTV pictures has been removed following developments in the enquiry

Advice available for Lancashire young people who need help

A Lancashire County Council service for young people is gearing up to cope with demand over the festive period.

Talkzone, provided by the Council's Wellbeing, Prevention and Early Help Service, offers advice, guidance, support and information for young people by phone, email, text, Facebook, Twitter and webtalk.

It's for young people between the ages of 12 and 19; and up to the age of 25 for young people with special educational needs or a disability and is available between 2pm and 10pm, every day of the year, including Christmas Day.

"I'm glad we have Talkzone, because Christmas and New Year aren't always merry and happy for everyone," commented Matthew Tomlinson, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for children, young people and schools.

"This time of year can be as stressful and challenging for young people as it can be for adults. They can feel as if all their friends are having a good time, while they might be at home with their worries.

"The good news is that you're not alone. Talkzone is staffed by sympathetic workers who are experienced in dealing with a wide range of issues affecting young people. They've probably dealt with every problem and question under the sun.

"If you're a young person and need to discuss anything, you can ring, text or email and one of our advisers will help."

Tracy Scotland, the manager of Talkzone, added: "We have qualified and experienced staff on hand who are used to dealing with anything and everything that young people call about. They really can talk about any worries, and at this time of year that is often about coping with family and relationship pressures.

"As well as relationship issues, Talkzone also helps young people who find themselves homeless at Christmas, need contraceptive, drugs and alcohol advice; or who need information about finding a job. No matter how big or small the issue is, Talkzone is available to help all young people in Lancashire."

Talkzone advisors will also be contacting young people over the Christmas period to help them to find a job, or training and education opportunities. They will also remind young people of the support that is available to them from Lancashire County Council and other organisations.

• The service will be open from 2pm to 10pm throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Young people are welcome to ring on 0800 511111, text on 07786 511111, email talkzone@lancashire.gov.uk or facebook.com/LancashireYZ to talk about any issue that concerns them. 

• More information about Talkzone and other information for young people is available at www.lancashire.gov.uk/yps 


Monday, 12 December 2016

Don't forget to apply for a primary school place for your child

If your child is starting primary school in 2017, don't forget to put applying for their school place on your Christmas list.

The closing date for applications is 15th January 2017, and online via the county council's website is the quickest and easiest way to apply.

Parents need to submit an application form for all children starting school, even if the child already has an older brother or sister at their preferred school.

County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: "Christmas is a busy time of year for many people, but I urge parents to remember to apply online for a primary school place for their child.

"If a family already has a child at a school, they must still apply for a place for their younger child.

"And if they have twins, they'll need to fill in two application forms.

"We know how important it is for parents to get the right school for their child, so we're encouraging them to apply on time to give themselves the best chance.

"It is important that parents include at least one of their local schools in their preferences.

"The deadline for applications for primary school places is 15 January 2017."

Children start primary school in the September after their fourth birthday.

For more information, visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/schools

• In northern Lancashire, parents can also call on: 01524 581148 or 01524 581112 (Lancaster, Morecambe, Wyre, Fylde) 

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Police appeal after Carnforth crash


Police are appealing for witnesses following a serious collision in Carnforth on Thursday (8th December 2016).

At around 1.15pm an 18-year-old learner driver in a Citroen C1 was waiting to turn right from the A6 at the junction of Tarn Lane and Nineteen Acre Lane when a Mercedes C180 saloon car collided with the back of it.

The Citroen ended up on the opposite side of the road, into the path of an oncoming Ford Focus which in turn ended up in a field.

The rear seat passenger of the Citroen, a 53-year-old man from Silverdale, was taken to Royal Preston Hospital with broken ribs, a fractured pelvis, spinal injuries and a dislocated hip.

The driver of the Mercedes, a 73-year-old woman from Haversham, suffered a broken wrist and the Focus driver, a 61-year-old woman from Lancaster was left with a cut to her lip.

Sgt Lee Campbell from the Road Policing Unit said: “We need anyone who may witnessed anything but hasn’t spoken to us yet to come forward.

“If you think you can help, please call us on 101 quoting incident number 699 of 8th December.”

The road was closed for over three hours whilst officers investigated.

Life Sentence for Lancaster Rapist

A man has been given a life sentence for raping a student after a night out in Lancaster.

David Watters, 32, of no fixed address was found guilty of the offence following a trial at Preston Crown Court last month and was sentenced on Friday.

He was jailed for life and must serve a minimum term of five years before he can apply for parole.

On Thursday 28th April this year, the 20-year-old victim had been on a night out in Lancaster with a friend and met Watters who was with a man he had met that evening.

The group of four went back to a house on Coulston Road but the victim took herself off to bed to go to sleep, leaving the rest of the group in the kitchen. A short while later, Watters sought out the victim’s bedroom and subjected her to a serious sexual assault.

DS Fiona Jackson from Lancaster CID said: “I am pleased with today’s result and hope that the victim can now start to move forward with her life

“Watters deliberately made his way into the victim’s bedroom knowing she was asleep and proceeded to rape her. I praise her for the strength she has shown during this investigation, in particular in giving evidence at court.”

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Local Cinema Round-up for the 7th to 15th December, 2016

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

We have only two new releases making it to the local screens during this period. There is the musical documentary Gimme Danger (15) featuring the band The Stooges and a Star Wars based adventure Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (PG).

Films that have come to an end of their screening include A Street Cat Named Bob and Doctor Strange. However by way of compensation, we see the return of Inferno; Ouija: Origin of Evil; Storks and The Secret Life of Pets.

Romance on offer this period includes the forbidden love in A United Kingdom and the wartime Allied.

Drama comes with the action/suspensel Inferno; aviation adventure in Scully: Miracle on the Hudson and the dark The Innocents. In addition there is science fiction action in Arrival and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Horror returns with Ouija: Origin of Evil and fantasy is represented by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Adult humour this period comes with Bad Santa 2 and Office Christmas Party.

Family movies on offer include Ice Age: Collision Course; Moana; Storks; and Trolls.

Film of note that are being screened include the classic White Christmas and In the Heat of the Night, both being shown at the Dukes. Also the Vue are offering another family treat with Little Screen December Show.

For high culture during this period we have the Opera Madame Butterfly; ballet with The Nutcracker and National Theatre Live: No Man's Land.

Reviews

A United Kingdom
Director: Amma Asante
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: David Oyelowo Rosamund Pike
Based on the book 'Colour Bar' by Susan Williams, the film is a romantic drama based on the real life romance between Sir Seretse Khama, king of Botswana and Ruth Williams. Seretse and Ruth met in London, in the 1940's, fell in love and subsequently married. However the marriage was opposed by their families, the couple becoming ostracised by their friends. Governments were also involved as South Africa had recently introduced their system of apartheid and they pressured the British government with threats of economic sanctions if the marriage was allowed to go ahead. This is a fine period romance with excellent costumes, impressive cinematography and exotic backdrops. The film concentrates on the human drama faced by the couple and rather glosses over the political complexities, but it is not the worse for that. The movie has received good reviews.

Bad Santa 2
Director: Mark Waters
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Kathy Bates, Brett Kelly
A sequel to the 2003 movie 'Bad Santa', starring many of the original cast. Wilie Soke (Thornton) again plays the role of drunk, lecherous and greedy anit-hero. He teams up with his helper Marcus (Cox) to attempt to rob a Chicago charity of $2 million on Christmas eve. Also involved in the scheme is Soke's foul mouthed mother Sunny (Bates) and 'the kid' from the first movie Thurmon Merman (Brett Kelly) now fully grown but no less innocent. The movie contains much bad language and sex scenes as it tries to recapture the magic of the original. However there are fewer 'laugh out loud' moments amongst the rather muddled plot. An average movie which received mixed reviews.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell
This is a Harry Potter prequel, inspired by J K Rowling's book of the same name. The movie is set in the 1920's, where Newt Scamander is a magizoologist, collecting and studying magical creatures. He visits New Your City where several of these creatures escape from his suitcase. He collects about him a group of allies to try to recapture the beasts. However New York at this time has been under a reign of terror from the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) and in the era of suspicion the creatures are believed to be responsible for an attack. Hence Percival Graves (Farrell), a director of magical secrets, declares war on Scamander and his helpers. This is a wonderful film and a fine tribute to the creativity of Rawlings. There are lots of plots, strange people and weird and wonderful beasts. The movie has received favourable reviews, but is perhaps a little darker than the Harry Potter series.

Ice Age: Collision Course
Director: Mike Thurmeier and Galen T Chu
Cast includes: Simon Pegg, Roy Romano, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Hohn Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Chris Wedge
A computer animation family adventure film. This is the fifth instalment in the Ice Age series and the sequel to Continental Drift. Scratt (Wedge), the sabre toothed squirrel, activates an alien UFO in his continued pursuit of the acorn. The craft propels Scratt into outer space and thence causes a planetary collision resulting in the creation of meteors that threaten to engulf the earth. Manny (Romero) the Wooly Mammoth, Sid (Leguizamo) the sloth and Diego (Leary) the sabre toothed tiger hatch a plan with the weasel Buck (Pegg) to save the earth. The plot is quite unbelievable, but the resulting mayhem is as entertaining as ever. New characters are introduced as the movie unfolds and the film a worthy addition to the franchise. Whats not to like?

Moana
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson
A Walt Disney animated fantasy adventure. Moana (Cravalho) is the teenage daughter of the chief of a Polynesian island. However the fish and island produce become less abundant and hence Moana undertakes a nautical quest to find the magical amulet Te Fiti's heart and the demigod Maui (Johnson). The quest involves monsters and battles This is a magical film, with music, comedy and a good dose of adventure. It is extremely well produced and has received excellent reviews from both critics and audience. A must see movie for all ages.

Storks
Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Kelsey Grammer, Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Anton Starkman
Conerstone used to be in the business of delivering babies and most of its employees are stalks. However CEO stalk Hunter (Grammer) discontinued the service for the more lucrative business of delivering parcels. The business receives a letter from Nate (Starkman) a neglected boy who wants a baby brother and Tulip (Crown), a woman working for Cornerstone, causes the baby machine to create a girl in response to the letter. Now Tulip and her stork friend Junior (Samberg) must deliver the baby before Hunter finds out. This involves their facing a pack of wolves, militant penguins and an avalanche. This is a bizarre, non stop and fun packed movie that will appeal to all ages. It has been well received by the critics and is sure to please.

The Secret Life of Pets
Director: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Louis C.K., Ellie Kemper, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart
A family animation film that follows the lives of pets living in a Manhattan apartment building during the time their owners leave them alone. Max (Louis) is a rather spoilt terrier who starts to find himself neglected when his owner Katie (Kemper) brings home Duke (Stonestreet), a mongrel, from a dog pound. However the two dogs must put their rivalry behind them when they are captured by Snowball (Hart) a rabbit and an army of abandoned pets who are trying to get back at all happily owned pets and their owners. This is a delightful and energetic animation movie that is inoffensive and fun for all, young and old.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Pedalling and paddling: two climate stories from Lancaster



Pedalling and Paddling is a new film that documents the escape of seven cyclists from Lancaster as the flood waters rose in December 2015.

Created by Lauren Walker, the film, which will be shown at The Storey on Thursday 15th December, pulls together local flood stories with the cyclists' journey to Paris for the Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP21). It encourages the viewer to reflect on the need for meaningful action on climate change and what this might involve.

The screening is a chance to mark the anniversary of Lancaster’s floods, and explore what we could be doing locally to tackle the issue of climate change.

Last December, seven cyclists from Lancaster joined a mass five day cycle ride from London to Paris for the UN 21st Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP21). They joined 150 other cyclists in crossing France to demonstrate how another world is possible - one where complete strangers can come together and support each other in crossing a country by pedal power and raise awareness of the issue of climate change.

But as they left Lancaster, Storm Desmond hit and the lights went out for more than 42,000 houses locally.

Anna Clayton, one of the cyclists stated “Although the COP21and the recent COP22 in Marakesh are steps in the right direction, and do aim to keep warming to below two degrees Celsius, they are weak. International climate agreements have failed to curb fossil fuel consumption and demonstrate that local initiatives such as divesting from fossil fuels and establishing local energy cooperatives and food and transport systems remain a key route to tackling climate change.

"By working together to oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure and the money that funds similar polluting industries, local communities have an opportunity to create the world that they want to see. Come and be part of this conversation locally on the 15th December 2016.”

“I believe we can all play our small part," added Anne Jarvis, "and I'm interested in helping build a community here in Lancaster and Morecambe that supports one another in the face of changing economic and climate change. I'm keen to find innovative ways to address the global issues that affect us locally.”

Tickets £3 - to cover the costs of room hire.

• To find out more see: www.facebook.com/events/1107797269341413

• Time to Cycle website: www.timetocycle.org